The rediscovery of Pietro Bellotti as a significant view painter of the 18th century has been relatively recent. The nephew of Canaletto and the younger brother of Bernardo Bellotto, with whom he trained in Venice, Bellotti was born into the greatest family of vedutisti. It is possible that he went to Rome in early 1742 before moving to France, where his child was baptised in Toulouse in March 1749. He may have visited England in the 1760s and ‘70s but was based predominantly in France, where he was recorded in Paris, Nantes and Lille. The first significant article to look at his life and work was published by Anne and Udolpho van de Sandt in 2002, who focused on his output in France (A. and U. van de Sandt, ‘Alla ricerca di “Pietro Bellotti, un veneziano di Tolosa”’, Saggi e memorie di storia dell’arte, XXV, 2002, pp. 91-120). Thereafter, Charles Beddington published several newly attributed pictures in articles in 2005 and 2007 (C. Beddington, ‘Bernardo Bellotto and His Circle in Italy. Part II: The Lyon Master and Pietro Bellotti’, The Burlington Magazine, CXLVII, 1222, January 2005, pp. 16-25; and C. Beddington, ‘Pietro Bellotti in England and Elsewhere’, The Burlington Magazine, CXLIX, 1255, October 2007, pp. 678-684), before curating an exhibition in 2013-14 at Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice, with Alberto Craievich and Domenico Crivellari, which constituted the first survey of Bellotti’s oeuvre, Pietro Bellotti: un altro Canaletto.
The view here looks south east across Piazza del Popolo in Rome, with the Egyptian obelisk, which was installed in the piazza in 1589, anchoring the composition on the left. While no picture by Canaletto of this prospect is known, there are versions attributed to his father - Bellotti’s grandfather - Bernardo Canal, as well as to Bernardo Bellotto (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum) and Jacopo Fabris (Plymouth, Saltram House).